I have taken advantage of the cold weather and re-visited an inspirational book written by David Watson about his experience running a permaculture operation on his family farm. Millpost is the name of the Watson’s farm, and David takes us on a journey through the many facets of the farm, and shows how permaculture principles have been put in place. David and his wife Judith implemented permaculture principles on their farm in 1979. They enlisted David Holmgren to help draw up a whole farm plan in 1994. David Holmgren was one of the co-founder’s of permaculture in Australia.
Permaculture isn’t a term often applied to broadscale farming operations. These days you might term it “Regenerative Agriculture” but digging beneath the surface, the aims of permaculture and regenerative agriculture are often very similar. The Watson’s farm is near Bungendore, which is similar country and climate to the Rock Farm. Whilst their operation is much larger than ours, it was the first time I had read a book where someone was able to put permaculture into practice on a large grazing property.
What I really liked about David’s book is that he has broken down many facets of the farm’s operation into specific chapters. From the commercial aspects of the farm with superfine merinos, to the vegetable gardens, tree plantings and chickens, David shares how they make the various aspects work for their family in a permaculture setting.
From David’s analysis of his experience, he has developed several simple lessons. For example: “Lesson No. 11: Work out which species are suited to your soil before mass planting anything.” Seems like common sense really, but the words are borne out of years of planting any and all types of fruit and nut trees. Some species have done really well, but the hot dry summers and brutally cold winters mean that not all trees survive. Walnuts apparently are one species that doesn’t thrive in this area, with some 30 year old trees barely 3 metres tall and having never borne any nuts.
David’s advice is based on experience and is extremely practical, based on years of following his permaculture plan. We share many of the challenges with Millpost. One such problem on the Rock Farm is our serrated tussock weed. I am coming to realise, like David, that I will need to use chemicals to bring the tussock under control. Once the tussock is in manageable quantities, I hope to be able to continue chipping out any patches as they occur, like they now do on Millpost.
Why am I so keen to avoid the use of chemicals on the Rock Farm?
It’s simple really. We eat our own products, and we feel that if our soil is healthy, then our livestock have the best chance at being healthy too.
If you are looking for more information on Millpost, and to purchase some of their superfine wool products, visit the Millpost Farm website here: https://www.millpostmerino.com/millpost
Millpost, a broad scale permaculture farm since 1979 by David Watson, 2018. ISBN 978-0-646-98482-7